“Thin line between heaven and here.”
Everyone has heard of The Wire, or at least mostly everyone. It’s usually found sitting atop lists naming “The Greatest TV Shows of All Time”. The best way I’ve heard it described is that “it really is as good as all of your pretentious friends tell you it is.” From the first season alone, I have to agree.
After surfing the internet and forum after forum during my watching of the first 4 and a half seasons of Breaking Bad, I saw loads of people saying “You like Breaking Bad?? You should totally watch The Wire!!!” At the moment The Wire and Breaking Bad seem to be duking it out for the title of best TV show ever. As well as this, the whole boxset of The Wire was on offer in Blockbuster. I’d be an idiot to pass it up.
First thing you notice in The Wire is how sprawling it is. I got to flashbacks to another brilliant HBO show: Band of Brothers, on account of how many characters there are and, at first, how difficult it is to differentiate between them. As well as this the characters all speak in drawls of Baltimore slang. More often than not I found myself reaching for the subtitles button. But I don’t think turning subtitles on is the heresy one writer of the show seems to think it. I watch the action on screen and only refer to the subtitles when the slang got confusing, which was rare anyway. The dialogue in this show is realistic, extremely so, and it matches the entire tone of the show. The show is full of bad language, drugs and violence yet you can’t help feeling that this is life on the streets of Baltimore. Just after the first season the show makes you feel like you know the ins and outs of the drug trade in Baltimore and the complexities of Police life.
The main character of the show, or at least he seems like that, is Detective Jimmy McNulty played by Dominic West. McNulty is a crass borderline alcoholic and absentee father. He’s also one of the most compelling characters I’ve ever seen. Dominic West makes you feel for this guy, a guy who cheated on his wife and a guy who at first seems like a real scumbag. Which brings me on to another point, the acting in this show is phenomenal. I can’t think of a weak link throughout the entire series, on either the Barksdale drug dealing side or on the Police. It’s amazing. Some real standout characters to me so far are; tough talking Lieutenant Cedric Daniels, Bubbles the drug addict (I hope his life gets better in following seasons) and the Robin Hood type badass Omar.
I’ve almost managed to get through this entire review without using the words “visceral”, “raw” or “unflinching”. I used “realistic” but I couldn’t help it. This show is everything its been cracked up to be, it has not let me down. It’s depressing, sure, but there are often upsides. It can be a difficult show to get into not least because of the violence, drugs and just confusing dialogue. But give it a go! I can’t wait to dive straight back into the violence, drugs and crime of the Baltimore streets. There will be ups and downs but I know one thing for sure, it’ll be an astonishing ride.